Tips and Tricks for DJ Sets
For all of the ambition, determination and good fortune that a DJ needs to land a gig, the challenges only intensify when the components are switched on, the tracks are lined up, and the first person hits the dance floor. So it's essential for any DJ to understand how to properly present a set and how to work a room for the best possible results.
Veteran turntablists will agree that practice is essential to honing one's skills as a DJ. In addition, it's helpful to be familiar with a wide spectrum of dance music that can be programmed depending on the event, club or concert. It's also important to know and understand the needs and specifics of any individual job: the equipment that will be necessary to bring to the venue, a general idea of the type of music the crowd expects, and the nature of the DJ's time slot or position on a given bill.
Regarding practice and preparation, it can include a run-through of a planned set-list -- the DJ's musical map for that particular journey -- to make certain that all of the chosen material flows as intended. Call it a musical map. Are there peaks, platforms and valleys that allow the energy and pace of the set to transport the audience to where the DJ wants to take them? If the energy flags or the crowd doesn't respond as hoped, a DJ has to be adaptable and resilient enough to improvise and somewhat change the original program.
The technical side of any DJ performance should include an awareness of the acoustics of the room and the absolute peak volume its sound system can handle without distortion. No one wants to blow the speakers out at a dramatic moment in the evening. And it's smart to bring enough music in enough different formats to keep the groove going if one or another audio-player or component breaks down.
Finally, it makes sense to be respectful of any other DJ spinning on the same night. Stealing a colleague's thunder by preempting what they've planned with the same material is not a good idea. The more unique each set is and the less overlap in the track lists, the more likely a memorable experience for DJs and patrons alike.